FAITHFULNESS – THE NINTH STEP TO HAPPINESS

We have been looking at The Beatitudes, found in Matthew chapter five. Each Beatitude begins with the word “Blessed” which could also be translated “happy” and as we have been making our way through The Beatitudes we’ve been finding steps to happiness.

Today we are looking at the ninth and last beatitude – faithfulness. Let me say right away that some Bible scholars consider there are just eight beatitudes – I consider there are nine – simply because the word blessed is found in The Beatitudes nine times. Follow along with me:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:3–12 (NKJV)

Today we focus on verses eleven and twelve of Matthew chapter five:

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11–12 (NKJV)

There’s an important characteristic in this beatitude — the word “you” is used four times, and “your” is used once, in this passage. It’s important because up to this point Jesus has been speaking about “THEY and THEIRS”. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For THEIRS is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For THEY shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For THEY shall inherit the earth.” In verse eleven he starts talking about “YOU and YOURS” and in this he is making this beatitude much more personal. Lets read it again — paying special attention to “you and yours”:

Blessed are YOU when they revile and persecute YOU, and say all kinds of evil against YOU falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is YOUR reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before YOU.

This beatitude tells me if I am a follower of Christ, persecution will surely come. Therefore: I need an attitude of FAITHFULNESS. Here is truth: Committed Christians stay COMMITTED. Faithful Christians stay FAITHFUL. Faithful husbands remain faithful to their wives. Faithful wives remain faithful to their husbands. Faithful parents remain faithful to their children. Faithful church members remain faithful to their church. Faithful Christians remain faithful to Christ. Let me say it again: Faithful Christians remain faithful to Christ. It is not always easy but it is always worth it? We know Jesus is impressed by faithfulness. In Matthew twenty-five, he tells a parable about a group of three servants who were given a certain amount of money. The master went off on a journey but when he returned there was a day of accountability. Two of the servants were faithful and the master said to them:

Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. Matthew 25:23 (NKJV)

Christians need to be faithful to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, so let’s look at five areas where Christians need to be faithful. The first is:

Faithful Christians are faithful in their TRIALS.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11–12 (NKJV)

Simon Peter is one of the Bibles colourful characters, and I really like him. He did not always do things Not because right. He was not always faithful. But he was bold in everything he did. He got into trouble for his boldness many times and He made some glaring mistakes. He even denied the Lord – denied Him three times in fact. But every time he fell down – Christ would pick him back up, dust him off and forgive him. That is because God is faithful — even in our unfaithfulness – God is always faithful. Faithfulness is a godly characteristic. Because faithfulness is a characteristic of God. To be faithful is to be Godly. Peter knew that. He writes to us and says:

Dear friends, when the fiery ordeal arises among you to test you, don’t be surprised by it, as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah rejoice, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 1 Peter 4:12–14 (HCSB)

When trials come — and they will – you are to remain faithful. So how do you know if you are being faithful — unless you are tempted by unfaithfulness? Look at this verse again: It says — “Fiery ordeals” are a test of your faithfulness. Do you see that? It’s in those times of testing when the chaff is separated from the grain. It’s in those times of testing — when things are heating up — that the metal is refined — almost as with fire. It’s in those times of testing that your faithfulness is proved and that your faith is exercised. You are tested by the trials of this world. Don’t be surprised by it – it is bound to happen — instead — rejoice for God is getting you ready for greater things. So we should strive to remain faithful in our trials — because faithful Christians remain faithful to Christ. It does not just happen, we make choices.

Faithful Christians are faithful in their TESTIMONY.

Look at another verse from First Peter, his time from chapter three:

Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. 1 Peter 3:15 (MSG)

One day a lady criticised D. L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in attempting to win people to the Lord. Moody’s reply was “I agree with you. I don’t like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?” The lady replied, “I don’t do it.” Moody replied, “Then I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.” Jesus said this: Whoever shall deny me before men, I also will deny him before my Father who is in the heavens. Matthew 10:33 (YLT) If you are a Christian – you are instructed to tell others about Christ. Peter said, “Be ready to speak up and do it with courtesy.” Faithful Christians proclaim their faith in CHRIST. They tell others what Christ has done in their lives.

Faithful Christians are faithful with their TREASURE. Jesus talks about treasures:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19–21 (NKJV)

Jesus goes on to say later in this chapter:

You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship both God and Money. Matthew 6:24 (MSG)

Seems to me that this is an important truth: God’s people support God’s WORK. The only way I see in the Bible for God’s work to be carried out in this world is through the support of God’s people. Let me say it again – God’s people support God’s work. Faithful Christians are faithful with their treasures. They are faithful with their money. They are faithful to support God’s work. I don’t know about you — but I want to support something that will make a difference in eternity. Something that will last forever. Christ’s church will last forever – the gates of hell will not even tear it down. Christ’s church was placed in this world to carry out Christ’s work — and I’m going to support it — with my time and with my treasure. How about you? Faithful Christians are faithful with their treasure. We often remember and speak of the far-sighted giving to this very Chapel by men like William Brazil, but we also have opportunity to make a lasting difference with whatever treasure we choose to invest in God’s work. Maybe it will be in your will, maybe it will be in reviewing your regular giving, maybe it will be in asking the Lord to show you if there is anything specific He’d like you to do with your treasure.

Faithful Christians are faithful with their TALENTS.

A little boy asked his father, “Dad, if three frogs were sitting on a branch that hung over a pond, and one frog decided to jump off the branch and into the pond, how many frogs would be left on the branch?” The dad replied, “Two frogs.”  “No,” the son replied. “Let me ask you again. There’s three frogs and one decides to jump into the pond, how many are left?” The dad said, “Oh, I get it, if one decides to jump, the others would jump too. So there are none left.” The boy said, “No dad, that’s not right. The answer is three frogs. The frog only DECIDED to jump — he never did jump.”

Have you ever decided to do something and never done it? Have you ever been given a present and never used it? God has given you talents, abilities and spiritual gifts — have you used them to help others? God did not give those talents, abilities and spiritual gifts just so you could make a living. He gave them so that you can help those around you. Look at what The Bible says about your spiritual gifts:

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV)

In other words — your gifts are given to you — for the good of all. The whole church is supposed to benefit from the spiritual gifts God gives YOU. We look out for each other — care for one another — help each other. We are to be our brother’s keeper. We are to love one another. Faithful Christians are faithful with the abilities. Faithful Christians are faithful with their talents. Faithful Christians are faithful with the spiritual gifts God has given them.

Faithful Christians are faithful with their TIME.

All of us have a limited amount of time. When I was a young man that did not bother me one little bit, hardly gave it a passing thought. One day, not sure when really, I suddenly realised I probably had fewer days left than days already lived. We don’t know the moment that God will take us home. We don’t know how long we have left in this world. The Bible says:

The grass withers, the wildflowers fade, if God so much as puffs on them. Aren’t these people just so much grass? Isaiah 40:7 (MSG)

Jesus said it this way:

Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. Mark 13:33 (NKJV)

All of us have a limited amount of time in this life. Faithful Christians know that their time on earth is limited. Jesus knew that too – didn’t He? He knew that His time was limited and that He needed to be found faithful — faithful to the end. Look at the verse from Philippians – follow along as I read:

Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. Philippians 2:8 (MSG)

Jesus remained faithful — and His faithfulness translated into obedience. I am so glad that Jesus was faithful — aren’t you? Faithfulness matters — doesn’t it? Christ’s faithfulness reveals His character. Guess what? Your faithfulness reveals your CHARACTER. God does not require you to be brilliant, clever, articulate, innovative, charming, handsome or beautiful. But He does require you to be faithful.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11–12 (NKJV)

If I am faithful one day I hope to hear:

’Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Matthew 25:23 (NKJV)

How about you? Faithful Christians remain faithful to Christ.

Part of a series drawn from the Beatitudes. See the rest:

Nine attitudes to live by

Humility

Repentance

Teachability

Righteousness

Mercy 

Purity

Peacemaking

Endurance

Faithfulness